UFC 161 Winnipeg: Main Event Henderson vs. Evans Preview and Breakdown

May 29, 2013

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UFC 161 Winnipeg: Main Event Henderson vs. Evans Preview and Breakdown



Dwight Wakabayashi – After fighter injury wreaked havoc and caused disappointment among fans in the UFC’s first foray into Calgary last year, it may have the opposite effect for the first show in Winnipeg on June 15th. An unfortunate injury to original headliner, interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao, has forced his fight with Eddie Wineland off the card and will be replaced by a juicy, fan friendly headliner between superstar veterans Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans. Henderson and Evans both have a huge fan following round the world and no disrespect to the bantamweight’s, but their fight being the headliner has fans in Manitoba and beyond smiling from ear to ear.

Star power is a huge component in fans being satisfied with the way a card is presented and Winnipeg will now see get the chance to see two of the biggest stars in the game take center stage and carry the card to success. There is a lot on the line in this fight, as both men have their sights dead set on a shot at the light heavyweight championship and more specifically, Jon Jones.

Here is a full preview and breakdown of Henderson vs. Evans

The winner of this fight will most likely get a shot at the winner of Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson as that seems to be the next logical fight for the title. You never know though, a big stoppage or big knockout by either Henderson or Evans, could give that man a direct line to Jones. Henderson was the number one contender as recently as last year, but injury, circumstance and his recent loss to Lyoto Machida have put him in this fight. Henderson wants to go out with a title, and now is his last chance to get it.

Evans took Jones the distance just over a year ago, but never really threatened the champ in that fight before following with a brutally lackluster fight against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in February of this year. Two losses in a row have Evans’ back squarely against the wall, and surely he is motivated by keeping his job in the UFC, let alone another possible title shot.

As far as the pedigree and star power, it doesn’t get much better than this fight between two very accomplished mixed martial artists who have taken very different MMA paths to get to this fight. Henderson is a tried and tested, proven veteran of the Pride and Japanese mixed martial arts heyday. He has big wins over some of the biggest names in the history of the game including Wanderlei Silva, Renzo Gracie, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Vitor Belfort, Rich Franklin, Michael Bisping, Fedor Emelianenko and Mauricio Rua. A fifteen plus year mixed martial arts career behind him, he is one of the longest standing veterans of this sport and he will need every bit of his wrestling and experience to be able to beat an athlete like Evans.

If Evans is on his game, he is one of the most explosive and fluid athletes to ever grace the Octagon but the question is, is Evans still motivated to be at the top of his game? Everybody has been made to look ordinary by Jon Jones, but his performance against L’il Nog was an alarming sight to see. He was clearly off and unmotivated to compete that night and I hope it was a mulligan for the thirty two year old former Ultimate Fighter winner.

Evans started his career seven years after Henderson, but rose to the top of the division quickly with a draw with Tito Ortiz, followed soon after with a shocking knockout over Chuck Liddell and then a title win over Forrest Griffin. Evans quickly lost the title to Machida but has beaten Ortiz, Thiago Silva and Quinton Jackson before his most recent losing skid.

Henderson is the more powerful straight puncher of the two with that bomb he carries in his right hand, but Evans has done damage with his as well. The wrestling aspect of the game could cancel out early and become a matter of conditioning late, and I see Evans getting the nod in the gas tank department. If Evans shows his top game, I think he is too quick and explosive for Henderson to handle the longer this fight goes on. His strength advantage may be able to get the upper hand on Evans early, and he will have to look for the right hand at all times.

If Evans can utilize leg kicks against Henderson, that could create a whole different dimension in this fight, as Hendo won’t be so free to load up that right hand bomb. Evans has a famous head kick knockout on his resume to draw from as well. Henderson uses his leg kick effectively as a set up for his right, but he does not possess an arsenal of kicks so Evans gets the nod there.

All of these advantages for Evans come under the condition that the real “Suga” shows up to the MTS Center in Winnipeg on June 15th. You know for sure that the real Henderson will be there, I’m just not sure he still has enough to beat Evans anymore.

Prediction: Evans via decision

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